Asians are the most enthusiastic tech adopters

Organizations are not protecting their mobile assets as well as their other systems (Image Tero Vesalainen / iStockPhoto)
GfK's Tech Adoption index found that Asians are the most enthusiastic early adopters (Image Tero Vesalainen / iStockPhoto)

Asians have emerged as the most enthusiastic adopters of new and innovative technology products globally. The latest findings released by GfK from the first of its kind study—the New Tech Adoption Index (NTAI), highlights Asia’s prominence in driving global new technology advancement; with the region’s high demand fueling growth of overall product category in majority of the region’s market by at least 35% in both volume and value terms in the past year.

GfK unveiled detailed findings of their first ever study conducted around the New Tech Adoption Index, which provides a relative measure of the inclination by Asian consumers towards adopting technology and consumer products with advanced features or technology.

The NTAI leverages GfK’s proprietary point-of-sales data to specifically analyze new consumer technology take-up across over 250,000 products in the consumer durables and technology industry across nine Asian and six key European markets. New consumer technology products categorized into four main baskets —Fun, Comfort, Freedom and Essential are analyzed accordingly, including hardware items and those with software-led features such as Ultra HD/4K and Gaming (Fun), Smart Appliances (Comfort), True Wireless, Wearables and AI Speaker (Freedom) and Screen sized larger than 5.5” for Smart + Mobile Phones (Essential).

“To be competitive, more and more brands are introducing products with innovative features or functionality. In order to succeed in their innovation efforts, it is important for brands to understand where they can find their greatest potential of early adopters, who can then create a network effect for their products,” said Vishal Bali, Managing Director for Client Solutions and Innovation, APAC. “The New Tech Adoption Index can help brands identify these markets, and even pinpoint the specific cities and regions within each market.”

New Technology Adoption: Different Shades of Asia

GfK reported a wide ranging spectrum of NTAI between 46 and 146 for the nine Asian markets, highlighting the vast differing levels of new technology adoption in the region. While showcasing the rise of key markets in new tech adoption, it also reveals the fact that the region is home to some of the laggards in this area. The top three markets with the highest overall NTAIs are China (146), Singapore (134) and South Korea (128), while India (46) and Indonesia (67) took their positions at the opposite end of the scale.

“The New Tech Adoption Index indicates a market’s propensity in new technology adoption based on how much higher or lower their calculated index is positioned from the baseline of 100. We see an obvious trend of market clustering among the developed and developing markets, whereby NTAIs are higher for the more mature markets, and lower for emerging ones,” observed Bali.

A deeper dive into the Asia’s NTAI reveals that 24 of the total 70 cities evaluated in the study showed above average readings, with the 8 top cities all hailing from China (NTAI range:161-196) —led by Beijing (196) and Shanghai (193). Eight of Korea key cities followed next (NTAI range: 147-156) with Seoul (156), Chungcheong (156) and Inchon (153) showing the highest new tech adoption propensity within this market. Most diverse market within Asia is Indonesia ranging from 33 to 118 with Botabek being the city which sees the highest level of new tech adoption.

Composition of the index analyzed by the four baskets reveals significant variations from country to country. Asia is clearly a “mobile first” region, which is why the Essential category is the main driver of NTAI across the region. Unique market traits take center stage when it comes to adoption of new tech products for the other categories. For instance, NTAI for the Freedom category is led by Vietnam where the local populations are generally younger, while the mature markets of Korea, China and Singapore exhibit higher NTAIs for the Fun category due to their greater spending power. It is interesting to note that new technology adoption in Comfort category is only significant within Developed Asia.

New Technology Adoption Index: Asia versus Europe

GfK also did a comparison of new technology adoption trends between East (Asia) and West (Europe). Amongst the six European markets, the four which have indices reflecting higher propensity in new tech adoption are Great Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany, although their ranking still lag behind four of Asia’s markets. In addition, the gap between the highest and lowest NTAIs is much narrower, in comparison, for European countries—ranging from 80 to 111.

Another notable difference between the two regions is the higher share of Fun, Freedom and Essential categories existing in the European region, whereas Comfort is practically a nonexistent category here.

Bali added, “The wide variation of new tech adoption in Asia as compared to Europe continues to lend credence to the notion that there is no one Asia, but it is in fact a complex fabric of distinct countries. And the complexity deepens when we consider sub-national characteristics.”

Implication for Brands in Asia

GfK’s NTAI study also highlighted the distinct traits of Asian consumers that set them apart from the rest of the world. For instance, evidence from various GfK reports reveal that Asian shoppers tend to be less loyal, more experimental, and are growing in sophistication when it comes to making purchase decisions thereby making the markets in Asia an ideal haven for new product test marketing. GfK Asia’s NTAI offers a view on the market’s receptivity to new consumer technology products and help businesses make crucial decisions pertaining not just to market selections to launch innovative new products, but also provide valuable market intelligence that can help brands in their product conceptualization process to ensure that the new tech product features will go down well with their target market.”

According to findings from another GfK study, nearly two in every three (64%) respondents surveyed in Asia said that they are less loyal to any one brand—a seven percentage point jump from two years ago. In comparison, the proportion of respondents in US and Europe who shared the same sentiments were significantly lower.

“However, a one-size-fits-all strategy will not work for Asia’s highly diversified and fragmented marketplace,” emphasized Bali. “Instead, focusing on pivotal factors such as perfecting their distribution and pricing strategies across different cities and channels, and gaining a good grasp of their different consumers’ needs and adoption behaviors, will significantly up the success rate of new technology brands in the consumer tech and durable space.”

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